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Mission, Vision, and Values

Mission, Vision, and Values Statements


Lt. Jeffrey A Biddiscombe, CHE

Edmonton AB

August 2006

Table of Contents

Mission, Vision, and Values








































Mission, Vision, and Values

In today’s busy society, business organizations face multiple challenges on a daily basis.

Finances, human resources, core business operations, and other factors impact an organization’s

focus. In order to manage these various factors and stay on track, organizations often employ

certain constructs to maintain focus. A highly utilized construct for organizational focus

involves the use of mission, vision, and values statements.

The following discussion will provide a literary review of these statements, examining

first how these statements fit into the larger concept of organizational management; followed by

a discussion of the particulars of each statement and their inter-relationships. This paper will

then introduce two related topics: separate versus blended statements, and the role of different

stakeholders in statement development. This paper will finally conclude with a case study of the

mission, vision, and values statements of a selected organization, the Canadian Forces Health

Services, including how these real organizational statements compare to current literature.

Organizational Management

A mission, vision, and values statement is a key component of a type of organizational

management called strategic management. While the strategic management concept was active

in the private business world for some time, it rose to prominence in the healthcare industry

during the 1990’s (Zuckerman, 2000), replacing the traditional long-term planning that hospitals

had been doing (Schwartz & Cohn, 2002). Spurring this change in planning process was a

changing environment, where ever-expanding healthcare costs caused government and taxpayers

to demand more fiscal accountability and better value for healthcare (Zuckerman).

Strategic management is a three-step process that involves strategic planning,

implementation, and evaluation (Robbins, Coulter, & Stuart-Kotze, 2003). Strategic planning is

Mission, Vision, and Values

a structured process that applies to an entire organization, allowing it to define its collective

mission, prioritize goals that support the mission, and align the whole organization towards

accomplishment of its mission and goals (Robbins et al., 2003; Schwartz & Cohn, 269). The

main goals of strategic planning are to:

Develop and implement a strategic plan that supports the organization’s mission,

vision and values

Create organizational and business unit plans

Identify and evaluate new business opportunities

Provide training and education related to planning

Perform market assessments and forecasts

Reconcile the plan with capital and operational budgets, as well as with human

resource and facility planning

Monitor plan implementation and measure results. (Runy, 2005, p. 60)

The strategic planning step is accomplished by performing the following sub-steps:

obtaining buy-in from formal and informal leaders; discussing and defining the organization’s

mission, vision, values, and goals; gathering relevant data about the economic environment; and

developing an action plan (Schwartz & Cohn, 2002). As demonstrated herein, the mission,

vision, and values statements are critical to the entire strategic management process.

Mission, Vision, and Values

Mission Statement

Of the three statements, the mission is arguably the most vital as it defines the

organization’s fundamental purpose or raison d’être. The mission statement is generally a short,

succinct statement that serves to inspire, motivate, and challenge the organizational members

Mission, Vision, and Values

towards some common goal or goals (Bart & Hupfer, 2004; Schwartz & Cohn, 2002; Spallina,

2004). Bart and Hupfer (2004) describe the mission statement as a “social contract in which

conduct is tied to individual rewards as well as broader stakeholder and social benefit” (p. 101).

They go on to say that a mission statement “describes a noble cause to which the enterprise

contributes. To the extent that this purpose is achieved, the external world will not only be a

better place, but perhaps one that is truly great” (Bart & Hupfer, p. 101).

As the mission statement embodies the organization’s purpose, the mission statement

seldom changes without a corresponding change in the fundamental purpose of the organization

(Schwartz & Cohn, 2002). While there is much debate over what a mission statement should

include (Bart & Hupfer, 2004), a typical mission statement includes the following nine

components: customers, products, markets, technology, concern for survival and growth,

philosophy, self-concept, and concern for employees and public image (Robbins et al., 2003).

In the healthcare industry, the mission statement should be developed through the active

participation of both administrative and clinical leaders (Spallina, 2004). Given the potential

emotional intensity that a mission statement can represent, it is not surprising that the mission

statement may be very difficult for an organization to compose. However, the composition

process can prove empowering as all involved can better understand how their personal roles

contribute towards achievement of the collective mission (Schwartz & Cohn, 2002). This

“power-producing” (Bart & Hupfer, 2004, p. 108) potential should not be underestimated as it

pertains to the whole organization, as members can acknowledge the organization’s mission and

also see how their roles contribute towards the mission’s achievement.

Vision Statement

Mission, Vision, and Values

The mission statement serves as the foundation for the vision statement (Spallina, 2004).

The vision statement is a forward-looking statement that defines the ideal state of an organization

in the foreseeable future (Bart & Hupfer, 2004; Schwartz & Cohn, 2002). It is generally a

“massively bold, over-arching, long-term goal” (as cited in Bart & Hupfer, p. 101) that captures

the organization’s desire to strive towards excellence in some form. The vision statement also

generally contains certain key characteristics that management wants the organization to develop

as it strives towards its goal (Spallina).

The gap identified between an organization’s current state and the vision statement’s

ideal state is usually significant. This allows the organization to focus on the gap and generate

enthusiasm within the organization to close the gap by developing specific interventions. By so

doing, the organization breaks free from its status quo and grows in the desired strategic

direction (Schwartz & Cohn 2002; Spallina, 2004).

Values Statement

Values are guidelines used to assess the ethical appropriateness of behaviour (McKinney,

1980). In an organizational context, a values statement defines the “guiding philosophies, ideals,

and planning principles” (Spallina, 2004, pp. 10-11) that an organization embodies (Schwartz &

Cohn, 2002). By formalizing values through a values statement, an organization attempts to set

the standard for appropriate behaviour among its members and define its organizational culture

or ethos. Values enrich the mission and vision statements by stating what behavioural guidelines

the organization will abide by as it pursues its goals (Bart & Hupfer, 2004).

In developing a values statement for an organization, each value should be thoroughly

discussed by the development team with a focus on how each value applies to the organization.

Mission, Vision, and Values

Rigorous debate over the wording of each statement will ensure that the meaning of each value

and its application to the organization is clear, thereby resulting in “a more homogeneous

organizational culture” (Spallina, 2004, p. 11) and less diversity of individual interpretation.

Select Related Topics

Having examined the substance of the mission, vision, and values statements, this paper

will now turn to present two related topics: separate versus blended statements, and the role of

various organizational personnel in statement development.

Separate versus Blended Statements

While the traditional approach to strategic management keeps each of the three types of

statements separate from one another, recent research by Bart and Hupfer (2004) has found a

divergent trend in the approach taken by many Canadian hospitals. Bart and Hupfer found that

many Canadian hospitals saw their vision and values as not being independent concepts from

their missions, but rather as being integrated with the hospital’s overall purpose. As such, Bart

and Hupfer found many hospitals blended the elements of mission, vision, and values into a

single, all-encompassing statement. Bart and Hupfer referred to this more generalized statement

as being a hospital’s “grand inspiration” (p. 101).

Personnel Involvement in Statement Development

While senior administrators have traditionally been the exclusive determiners of an

organization’s strategic direction, there are other important stakeholder groups who are

becoming increasingly involved in the strategic management process. Three such stakeholder

groups in the healthcare industry are clinical professionals, middle managers, and general


Mission, Vision, and Values

Physicians form a major subgroup within the stakeholder group of clinical professionals.

As physicians are the primary type of healthcare provider, their actions significantly affect the

organization’s performance. Furthermore, their inclusion in organizational governance has been

shown to be an important factor for organizational success. Consequently, involving physicians

meaningfully in the strategic management process will contribute to organizational success by

nurturing positive working relationships between physicians and administrators and by providing

“a vehicle for direct input into organizational strategic direction and important clinical and

business decisions” (Rovinsky, 2002, p. 38).

Like the medical profession, other health professions, such as nursing, have a patient

advocacy role that can be effectively applied to a strategic management process. Furthermore,

clinical professionals have clinical expertise that gives them a unique perspective regarding

healthcare strategic planning. Consequently, the participation of clinical professionals in

strategic management enriches the process and ensures that the strategic direction considers the

quality of service delivery (Carney, 2004).

Middle managers are in a unique position by bridging between senior administration and

the grass roots employees, thereby giving them a unique perspective on the organization. As

middle managers are most involved with the daily management of an organization, their buy-in

of corporate strategy is vital to ensure the strategy’s consistent implementation throughout all

levels of the organization. Research has shown that middle managers who felt excluded from the

strategic planning process both actively and passively undermined its implementation (Carney,


In a similar manner to these other stakeholders, general employees who participate in the

strategic management process are more likely to identify the importance of their role in support

Mission, Vision, and Values

of the mission. Consequently, general employees will more likely “direct their efforts and

exercise a higher level of commitment to strategy, leading to understanding of and acceptance of

strategy, and to more effective and efficient delivery of services to consumers” (Carney, 2004, p.


Case Study: Canadian Forces Health Services

Having discussed the current literature regarding each of the three statements, this paper

will now apply this information to a case study analysis of an actual organization’s mission,

vision, and values statements.

CFHS Background

The selected organization for analysis is the Canadian Forces Health Services (CFHS),

which has been undergoing significant restructuring over the past six years. The restructuring

process was the result of “reported health care deficiencies” (Canadian Forces Health Services,

2005) from several prominent reports in the late 1990’s. In response, the Director General of the

CFHS, with the full support of the Canadian Forces senior leadership and government, initiated

Project Rx2000, a massive restructuring effort that has touched every aspect of the CFHS itself.

As an early intervention in its restructuring process, the CFHS senior leadership developed and

published its own mission, vision, and values statements (Canadian Forces Health Services,

2002), attached as Appendix 1. These statements provide a rich case study for analysis

according to the literature just discussed.

Mission Statement

The CFHS mission statement clearly captures the organization’s purpose with little or no

room for interpretation. In keeping with the notion of brevity for a mission statement, the

CFHS’s mission is a short and succinct statement, being composed of only twelve words. Of the

Mission, Vision, and Values

nine common components of a mission statement (Robbins et al., 2003), the CFHS mission

includes only two: its products, health protection and quality care, and its customers, the

Canadian Forces.

Vision Statement

Given the CFHS’s “reported health care deficiencies” (Canadian Forces Health Services,

2005), the organization has defined a laudable ideal state for itself in the vision statement. Being

“trusted for our expertise …[and] proud to serve” (Canadian Forces Health Services, 2002) are

two challenging, yet achievable, goals for the CFHS. These goals have certainly facilitated the

CFHS in focusing its resources on closing the gap between the current and ideal state, as

demonstrated by the numerous working groups and sub-projects within the Project Rx2000.

While the vision statement has defined the CFHS’s ideal state, the vision statement also

acknowledges certain characteristics it expects the organization to adopt in pursuit of its goals.

Understanding and respecting military members’ “unique needs” (Canadian Forces Health

Services, 2002) reminds CFHS members that military healthcare is different, from the types of

stresses and injuries military members face, to where geographically they face these threats, to

the circumstances under which these threats are faced. Although CFHS members are themselves

military members and thereby face the same threats as their military patients, this line in the

vision statement perhaps serves to re-sensitize CFHS members to the uniqueness of their own,

and their patients’, healthcare situation.

Although only two of the nine common mission components were included in the CFHS

mission statement, one reappears in the vision statement plus two others: products, markets, and

self-concept. In this respect, the CFHS vision statement appears to be formatted as a “grand

inspiration” (Bart & Hupfer, 2004, p. 101) statement, similar to those found in many Canadian

Mission, Vision, and Values

civilian healthcare organizations. Healthcare “expertise … [and] excellence of … care”

(Canadian Forces Health Services, 2002) are two products that the CFHS provides, although it

can be argued that the current level of service is below this, hence their inclusion in the vision

statement as a goal to strive towards. The CFHS’s markets are clearly described by the phrase,

“anytime, anywhere” (Canadian Forces Health Services). Lastly, the vision statement includes a

phrase addressing the CFHS’s self-concept of being a “professional military health service”

(Canadian Forces Health Services).

Values Statement

In pursuit of its mission and vision, the CFHS has formally acknowledged seven values

that will guide its collective actions. These values, elaborated upon by their accompanying

narratives, appear to cover three themes. The first theme, concern for patients, manifests itself in

the values of Caring, Teamwork, Professional Excellence, and Accountability. While some of

these values seem tangential to this theme, the narratives of each value is clear in how the value

relates to patients. The second theme, investment in CFHS personnel, is noted in the values of

Our People, Professional Excellence, and Military Ethos. The narrative of each value includes

comments on either learning or professional development. The last theme, guiding principles for

work, includes all of the values except Our People. Together, these six values describe how

CFHS members should approach their duties: through caring, teamwork, striving for excellence,

and being responsible.


While the CFHS’s mission, vision, and values statements appear meaningful enough, it is

the author’s experience that these statements have not achieved the degree of organizational

homogeneity (Spallina, 2004) that the CFHS senior leadership had anticipated. Although these

Mission, Vision, and Values

statements may have been actively inculcated into the CFHS senior leadership, passive

dissemination methods were used for the remainder of the organization, including using such

means as distributing formal Canadian Forces General Instructions and erecting wall posters.

Given the fundamental nature of these statements, it is most unfortunate that an active

dissemination plan was not conducted throughout the organization. It is through active

engagement and debate over these statements that CFHS members can understand the new

direction of their organization, generate enthusiasm and buy-in, and align their actions toward

achievement of the common goal.


In conclusion, the literature demonstrates the potential of mission, vision, and values

statements to drive an organization forward. However, their potential can only be realized when

these statements are actively communicated throughout the organization and personnel embrace

the “grand inspiration” (Bart & Hupfer, 2004, p. 101) that these statements represent.


Mission, Vision, and Values

Bachrodt, A. K. & Smyth, J. P. (2004). Strategic planning linking strategy with financial reality. Healthcare Financial Management 58(11), 60-66.

Bart, CK, and Hupfer, M (2004). Mission statements in Canadian hospitals. Journal of Health Organization and Management 18(2), 92-110.

Canadian Forces Health Services (2002, February 10). About Us. Retrieved December 6, 2005 from:

Canadian Forces Health Services (2005, September 22). Rx2000 Project. Retrieved December 7, 2005 from:

Carney, M. (2004). Perceptions of professional clinicians and non-clinicians on their involvement in strategic planning in health care management: Implications for interdisciplinary involvement. Nursing and Health Sciences 6, 321-328.

Grobmyer, JE. (2002). Putting Your Financially Based Strategic Plan into Action. Trustee 55(1), 30-2.

Kaufman, NS (2002). Achieving peak performance through strategic visioning. Trustee 55(7), 24-27.

Mason, SA. (2000). Performance-based planning for hospitals. Health Care Strategic Management 18(12), 14-17.

McKinney, JP (1980). Moral Development and the Concept of Values. In Windmiler, M, Lambert, N, and Turiel, E, Eds. Moral Development and Socialization, pp. 201-218. Boston: Allyn and Bacon Inc.

Robbins, SP, Coulter, M, and Stuart-Kotze, R. (2003). Management (Canadian 7 th ed.). Toronto: Prentice Hall.

Rovinsky, M. (2002). Physician Input: A Critical Strategic-Planning Tool. Healthcare Financial Management 56(1), 36-8.

Runy, LA (2005). Integrating strategic and financial planning. Hospitals & Health Networks 79(6), 59-63.

Schwartz, RW, and Cohn, KH (2002). The necessity for physician involvement in strategic planning in healthcare organizations. The American Journal of Surgery 184, 269-278.

Mission, Vision, and Values

Spallina, JM (2004). Strategic Planning – Getting Started: Mission, Vision, and Values. Journal of Oncology Management Jan – Feb, 10-11.

Zuckerman, A (2000). Leveraging Strategic Planning for Improved Financial Performance. Healthcare Financial Management 54(12), 54-57.

Appendix 1

Mission, Vision, and Values

Canadian Forces Health Services: Mission, Vision, and Values Statements

"Understanding and Caring"

For those who serve anytime anywhere

Our Vision

We are a professional military health service trusted for our expertise. We understand and respect the unique needs of those who serve anytime, anywhere. The excellence of our care makes us proud to serve.

Our Mission

To promote health protection and deliver quality care to the Canadian Forces.

Our Values


We have empathy for our patients, whose welfare is our foremost concern. Compassion is always evident as we share with them the responsibility for their health.

Our people

We support, promote and encourage the professional and personal development of our people.


We are a multi-disciplinary team that works together, guided by the best interests of those we serve.

Professional Excellence

We master the skills of our disciplines, learn continuously and base our judgements on scientific evidence and the best interests of those we serve.


We listen to, understand and inform our patients, our people, the Canadian Forces and the public.


We take responsibility for our actions, decisions and behaviour.

Military Ethos

Our uniformed personnel continuously develop and excel as loyal and dedicated members of the Canadian Forces.